Jason MacGurn

2013 Regional Award Finalist — Post-Doc

Jason MacGurn

Current Position:
Assistant Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology

Vanderbilt University (Previously at Cornell University)

Cell Biology

Recognized for: Research advancing our understanding of substrate selection for membrane trafficking and protein turnover pathways

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Cell biology, biochemistry

Jason MacGurn


PhD, Cell Biology, University of California, San Francisco
BS, Biological Sciences, University of Chicago

Jason MacGurn investigates the molecular mechanisms responsible for cell surface remodeling and their role in human disease progression. Eukaryotic cell surface remodeling is a process that relies on the targeted removal and degradation of plasma membrane proteins and controlled by ubiquitination, a post-translational modification. MacGurn has identified a novel ubiquitin ligase substrate targeting mechanism, elucidated a signaling mechanism for regulating cell surface remodeling, and characterized a quality control mechanism related to detection of misfolded integral plasma membrane proteins.

Dr. MacGurn recently started a lab at Vanderbilt University to study how ubiquitin modification of proteins regulates cell membrane trafficking, signaling pathways, and protein degradation using yeast and human cells. Ubiquitin ligases have been linked to various human diseases that result from defects in membrane protein turnover, including certain types of cancer and neurodegeneration. Both inside and outside the laboratory, MacGurn stresses the importance of science advocacy—reaching out to legislators at the state and federal levels.

I think the most fascinating thing about cell biology is that when we understand the nuts and bolts well enough, we can begin to see design patterns that emerge throughout biology. And when we understand those design patterns, we can begin to engineer our own design patterns based on those that are capable of performing complex biological tasks.”

Key Publications:

  1. Zhao Y, MacGurn JA, Liu M, Emr SD. The ART-Rsp5 ubiquitin ligase network comprises a plasma membrane quality control system that protects yeast cells from proteotoxic stress. Elife. 2013; 2:e00459.
  2. MacGurn JA, Hsu PC, Emr SD. Ubiquitin and Membrane Protein Turnover: from Cradle to Grave. Annu Rev Biochem. 2012; 81:231-59.
  3. MacGurn JA, Hsu PC, Smolka MS, Emr SD. TORC1 Regulates Endocytosis via Npr1-mediated Phosphoinhibition of a Ubiquitin Ligase Adaptor. Cell. 2011; 147(5): 1104-17.
  4. Lin CH, MacGurn JA, Chu T, Stefan CJ, Emr SD. Arrestin-related ubiquitin-ligase adaptors regulate Endocytosis and protein turnover at the cell surface. Cell. 2008; 135(4): 714-25.

Other Honors:

NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00), 2012
Sam and Nancy Fleming Research Fellowship, Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology, 2008-2011